Unitech Optimus 8500 eXP

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The Unitech Optimus 8500 eXP
A RADEON 8500 tweaked out for the masses

By -Chris Angelini
May 29th, 2002

 

Like it or not, NVIDIA is currently dominating the high-performance video card market.  With an aggressive release schedule and undeniably impressive array of graphics processors, NVIDIA has maneuvered into a comfortable position of supremacy.  Between the GeForce4 Ti and GeForce4 MX families, both the enthusiast and business markets are being bombarded with attractive products.  Furthermore, the GeForce4 Go does a commendable job delivering 3D to mobile customers.  NVIDIA is now clearly gunning for its main competition, ATI Technologies.

ATI is more than just a formidable adversary, though.  For every market NVIDIA has chosen to dabble in, ATI has retaliated with a solution of its own ? gaming consoles, chipsets, mobile graphics, workstation graphics, and of course, gaming cards.  In an attempt to compete more aggressively with NVIDIA, ATI has begun selling GPU?s to third-party manufacturers responsible for distributing and marketing ?Powered by ATI? products.  Unitech?s Optimus 8500 eXP Special Edition is the second RADEON 8500 card to land in our labs from a source other than ATI, and it?s clear that Unitech has done their homework on what it takes to enhance an already beefy graphics board.

Not only is the Optimus 8500 eXP clocked faster than your everyday RADEON 8500 board, but it is also accompanied by a gaming and video bundle.  To top it off, ATI?s recently released 7.70 drivers are increasing performance across the board for this card.  It?s true that Unitech hasn?t received much attention in North America (mainly because its headquarters opened February 2002), but the Optimus 8500 eXP promises to put the emerging company on the map.

Specifications and Features of the Optimus 85000 eXP
VGA, DVI, and TV-Out

 

RADEON 8500
  • 300MHz GPU
  • VGA, TV In/Out, DV
  • 256-bit Graphics Accelerator
  • 1.23 trillion operations/sec.

DirectX 8.1 Support:

  • Truform
  • Smartshader
  • Charisma Engine II
  • Pixel Tapestry II

Smoothvision Anti-aliasing Engine:

  • Programmable multi-sampling
  • Also supports super-sampling

TV Out Jack:

  • On-board TV-out support both composite and S-video.

Cooling solution:

  • On-board active heat-sink cooling fan
Specifications:
  • Controller: RADEON 8500
  • Bus Type AGP
  • Memory 128MB DDR
  • Core Clock 300MHz
  • Memory Clock 550MHz DDR memory
  • Dual RAMDAC 400MHzMHz
  • API Support Direct-X, Open GL ICD for Windows
  • Connectors VGA, DVI, TV In/Out

Features at a Glance:

  • AGP 4x compatible with fast writes
  • 256-bit 3D and 2D graphics accelerator
  • ATI Hydravision multi-monitor support
  • HyperZ II
  • Smoothvision Anti-aliasing
  • Video Immersion II
  • TV Out connector
  • DVI connector

Package Contains:

  • Optimus 8500 eXP video card
  • Driver CD
    (Contains Software Driver, Tweak Utility, ATI Multimedia Center & user's manual)
  • 2 full games (Serious Sam and Giants)
  • MovieXOne Video Editing software
  • Connectors for S-video and composite TV-out/in
     

Instead of throwing a large heat sink on the Optimus 8500 and calling it a ?gamer?s card,? Unitech has taken the initiative to apply Arctic Silver II thermal adhesive between the RADEON 8500 core and the heat sink.  The card itself features 128MB of 3.3ns DDR memory clocked at 275MHz.  RADEON 8500 boards from ATI have 275MHz cores, so Unitech has made a real push towards the enthusiast market by shipping 300MHz boards.

Unitech is apparently more liberal than most companies when it comes to bundling software.  Since the Optimus 8500 eXP is aimed at the gaming community, it only makes sense to include a couple of games.  In this case, Unitech somehow decided on Serious Sam and Giants.  Serious Sam is a great game for the frantic first-person shooter fan, but it?s an older game that has since been dated by Serious Sam SE.  Giants is a DirectX 7 title and consequently won?t demonstrate the DirectX 8.1 features of the RADEON 8500 GPU.  Nevertheless, both games are fun to play, even if they don?t showcase the latest in graphics technology.  In addition to the two games, Unitech is also including Star Wars: The Phantom Menace with the Optimus 8500 eXP.  Considering ATI?s dominance in video acceleration, the bundled DVD makes perfect sense.  Finally, it is nice that Unitech has included all of the hardware necessary to make connections to a digital flat panel, two analog CRT?s and a television (with both in/out composite/S-video cables). 

Screen Shots, 2D Image Quality, and Drivers 

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